NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 2, 2006

Fort Worth's beleaguered pension fund faces a huge long-term funding shortfall of $411 million, according to a report by city auditor Costa Triantaphilides.

The most shocking revelation, says the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, was the disclosure of how some veteran city employees -- most notably police officers and firefighters -- are racking up large amounts of overtime that dramatically escalates their retirement pay.  In 2005, for example:

  • A police corporal was paid a base salary of $70,429 and earned a stunning $78,231 for 1,630 hours of overtime, bringing total compensation to $148,660.
  • The corporal averaged 71 hours per week, including 31 hours' overtime.

But that's not all, says the Star-Telegram: City employees' pensions are based on average compensation for their highest three years of pay, with overtime included.  From the example above, the corporal could retire in 2007 with an annual pension of $111,495, far eclipsing the pre-retirement base pay.

Overall, the numbers are more outrageous:

  • Of 11 anonymous senior employees listed in the report as having received overtime pay of $14,430 or more in 2005, five were police officers; four were fire personnel.
  • The city paid $19.9 million in overtime in 2005, of which $2.66 million, or 13.4 percent, was attributed to "disaster response" efforts such as aiding Hurricane Katrina victims.
  • The overtime paid city employees in 2005 represented an enormous 45.7 percent increase over the $13.7 million paid in 2004. From 2000 through 2005, the city paid $81.6 million in overtime.

Taxpayers should be outraged by senior employees racking up excessive overtime to increase their retirement pay to ridiculously high levels that far exceed customary pension benefits.  Paying some overtime often makes good sense.  But excessive overtime is costly to the city and pension fund, and thus threatens to deplete taxpayers' wallets, says the Star-Telegram.

Source: Editorial, "They were paid how much?!," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, November 2, 2006.


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